|Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings|
|Paper - Abstract|
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I support four-dimensionalism, the doctrine of temporal parts, against three-dimensionalism, the doctrine that objects are always "wholly present." What, exactly, does this dispute amount to? Four-dimensionalism may be formulated in clear and unambiguous language; those who say the dispute is confused or merely verbal are thereby answered. Interestingly, three-dimensionalism is not so easy to formulate. The trouble is in the slogan "wholly present," the meaning of which is not at all clear. After the formulational issues, I offer a new argument for four-dimensionalism, based on the assumption that vagueness never issues from "pure logic" (including quantification and identity).
Persistence through time is like extension through space. A road has spatial parts in the subregions of the region of space it occupies; likewise, an object that exists in time has temporal parts in the various subregions of the total region of time it occupies. This view — known variously as four dimensionalism, the doctrine of temporal parts, and the theory that objects “perdure” — is opposed to “three dimensionalism”, the doctrine that things “endure”, or are “wholly present”. I will attempt to resolve this dispute in favor of four dimensionalism by means of a novel argument based on considerations of vagueness. But before argument in this area can be productive, I believe we must become much clearer than is customary about exactly what the dispute is, for the usual ways of formulating the dispute are flawed, especially where three dimensionalism is concerned.
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